Managing your footprint in a developing country – Part 1: Forming New Habits

Whatever the nature of your journey, when touching down in a new country, there is a lot to take in. When actually living in these places, you peel the layers back even further and realize how little supplies or infrastructures exist to allow you to live like back home. I am a pretty big fan of sustainability and all things natural and healthy – and these things don’t come easy in rural Peru.

For anyone who is setting up in a new country, I recommend reading my tips below on simple habits that will help you keep your environmental impact low with very little effort. 

Without further ado, let’s get to Part 1: Forming New Habits.

Adapting to anything new usually means developing new routines. Might as well use this as a fresh start and get going on a streak that is healthy for you and the planet. Below are my suggestions to keep you feeling good about the footprint of your daily routine:


Water is life and is not so obvious when living in a country with non-potable tap water. I have yet to visit a country that doesn’t sell the big blue 20L water bottles – you know the ones you serve yourself that paper cup of agua from at the dentist office? Yep! The first bottle will cost you a bit more because you pay for the deposit, but you end up saving money – and a lot of plastic – because upon refill you are only paying for the water. So fill up that Nalgene and drink up!

Plastic bags.

If I was an activist I would start the #SinBolsa (without bag) campaign. Bring or buy a reusable shopping bag; this should go a long way in reducing bolsas on market days. As for any bags you do end up with, put them to good use by replacing your traditional ziplock bags, using them as garbage bags, or keeping a small supply in your backpack for unexpected pit stops at the sweet shops. 


Another way to reduce your plastic bag usage is to carry a Tupperware. You might not always have the foresight, but try. Once it becomes routine, you will find them handy for getting take-out or stopping for fresh juice in the morning.  My fairshare mug has been a great multipurpose companion.

Food scraps. 

Cooking in Peru has made me realize how integrated composting is with my routine – and with managing my guilt around food waste. The first tip is buying less food even if it means shopping more often. Food here is not treated to encourage longer shelf life so this will go a long way towards reducing the likeliness of waste.

When cooking, any veggie food scraps go in the freezer. About once a week, I make a broth from these leftovers and then use that for cooking any grains like rice, barley, wheat berries, quinoa. Ideally, we would all have home composters but this may not always be realistic. My landlord has a dry compost pile in our yard so if you find yourself in the same position, you can consider sun-drying these spent veggies to inconspicuously add them to dry compost heap. 

Another great compost-less way to minimize your food waste is to consider the animals in your community. Make a habit of feeding the stray dogs any leftovers, they are not picky eaters! Another option – which will also help improve your language skills – is to make friends with a lady at the market who will feed your compost to her chickens, guinea pigs or other. One woman’s waste can be another woman’s treasureYou might be surprised by how valuable your food scraps can be! 

These are just a few simple  habits you can adopt… but there is a lot more you can do! Stay tuned for my next article that introduces recipes and tricks – who knows, maybe even your next hobby. 

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